Slam Dunk: New Thompson Center Opens

New Thompson Center
Georgetown’s more than 700 student-athletes from all 29 sports have a new, state-of-the-art athletic center, named for legendary men's basketball coach John R. Thompson Jr. The naming celebrates Thompson's dedication to the formation of young people, on and off the court.

By Jeffrey Donahoe

Decades of student-athletes have chosen Georgetown because of its academic rigor, coaching talent, and campus community. Now they have even one more reason—the state-of-the-art John R. Thompson Jr. Intercollegiate Athletics Center.

 

 

In fall 2016, student-athletes began using the new Thompson Center, a 144,000-square-foot facility named for the legendary former head men’s basketball coach John Thompson Jr., who coached from 1972 to 1999, leading the Hoyas to three NCAA Final Four tournaments, including the 1984 National Championship.

The five-story facility, adjacent to McDonough Gymnasium, has two floors of dedicated space for men’s basketball, as well as courts for women’s basketball. The Thompson Center will host much more than basketball, however. Athletes from all of the university’s 29 varsity sports use the weight training and sports medicine facilities as well as the academic center and equipment areas.

“This facility is better than some pro facilities that I have seen,” said former men’s basketball standout forward Jeff Green (C’12), who played for men’s basketball coach John Thompson III and now plays for Orlando Magic. Green returned to the Hilltop to attend the October 6 dedication.

At the dedication, Georgetown President John J. DeGioia spoke about not only Thompson’s coaching prowess, but his commitment to academic achievement that resulted in a 97 percent graduation rate for his students. During the late 1980s, the NCAA proposed tightening GPA and SAT requirements for scholarship eligibility for first-year college students. Thompson protested the NCAA’s Proposition 42, saying it limited educational opportunities for students from underrepresented socioeconomic communities. The NCAA eventually dropped Proposition 42.

In his remarks, DeGioia recognized Thompson “for the profound impact he has had—here, in our community, on the game of basketball, and to larger questions of racial justice, equity, equality, and opportunity in our nation.”

A bronze statue of Thompson dominates the center’s lobby, along with several Thompson quotes, including the particularly famous, “When I’m gone, if I can’t go to Heaven, take me back to Georgetown.”